LOTAMS Sees Stability Despite Neighboring Russia-Ukraine Turmoil
The Russia-Ukraine War does not seem to be taking a toll so far on aviation or aircraft maintenance in the countries immediately to the west of the conflict.
For example, Poland’s LOT Aircraft Maintenance Services (LOTAMS) has pre-filled service slots for the coming months with new and returning airlines, according to a spokesperson. Increasing sales also mean funds for investments and the ability to maintain employees, “all of which have a direct impact on the company's operations in a stable situation with liquidity,” says the spokesperson.
Intra-European daily flights are experiencing the usual spring surge, reaching 18,300 daily in the last week of April—almost 80% of pre-COVID levels—according to RadarBox. Europe’s international flights appear to be doing even better, hitting nearly 5,900 a day—about 85% of pre-COVID levels. Europe to Latin America flights are strongest, reaching 89% of pre-COVID levels at the end of April. Flights to Asia are weaker, at 68% of pre-COVID daily rates. However, at least some widebodies are getting a workout.
It helps that LOTAMS’ parent carrier, LOT Polish Airlines, reached 70% of pre-COVID daily flights by the end of April. As in the U.S., European low-cost carriers have been doing even better. Wizz Air had topped its pre-COVID flight schedule by a healthy margin at the end of April.
LOTAMS acknowledges that it is hard to say where future growth will come from. According to global forecasts, the worst is over. Moreover, “…after the experiences of the past few decades, we are stronger and know more or less what to expect and how to counteract the obstacles encountered,” the spokesperson notes. However, it is unclear when the airline industry will return to its pre-pandemic state and which aircraft type or maintenance type will be most in-demand.
The MRO is constantly expanding its offerings and tracking changes occurring on the aviation market. These changes are currently most concentrated on Boeing and Embraer types. LOTAMS plans to build a new facility near Rzeszów in southeastern Poland that will expand capabilities for base maintenance, especially for widebody models such as the Boeing 787.
However, LOTAMS was forced to carry out a process of group layoffs at the beginning of 2021. The total number of employees laid off did not exceed 150 staff. Currently, due to the improvement of the service situation, it is recruiting for individual positions in designated areas.
“We are constantly recruiting for particular positions, as well as taking part in job fairs,” the spokesperson says. “We have also established contacts with technical schools teaching aviation professions. Such activities help us to establish contacts with young, future LOTAMS employees.”
LOTAMS says the relationships it has developed over the years have helped it avoid supply-chain problems. Due to the previously contracted services, LOTAMS says the consequences of the war in Ukraine have not so far affected its operations.
Editor's note: Due to the fluid nature of Russian operators 'seizing' aircraft from lessors and placing them on the Russian aircraft register, there is potential for aircraft not to be matched to flights correctly, giving a slightly skewed view of the market.